PORTLAND -- Police and firefighters said they will be cracking down on illegal fireworks in the Portland and Vancouver Metro areas this year, more than ever before.
During the 2011 Independence Day holiday, 70 fires were caused by fireworks in the Portland Metro area alone.
Mortars, bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers are illegal to set off, or even possess in Oregon. The rule is that any fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than six feet on the ground or 12 inches in the air have been banned. People caught using them could be fined up to $1,000.
Washington state's rules are not as strict. That's why many Oregonians travel across the border to Washington to purchase fireworks, which is a big concern for police.
Firefighters said they have already begun issuing warnings and tickets, including to one person who was found with $2,000 worth of illegal fireworks Tuesday night.
KGWvisited a fireworks stand in Vancouver Tuesday where more than half of the car license plates in the parking lot were from Oregon.
I think people come up here, maybe if they crack down harder maybe not as many people would come but I haven't seen a single police car out today, said customer Eric Minturn.
Firefighters and police plan to patrol until 2 a.m. July 4th, collecting evidence and handing out warnings and citations. This is the first time ever that police in the area will have the authority to hand out citations, because they were deputized just for the holiday.
Portland police said they planned a special focus near Sellwood Park, Hayden Island (Jantzen Beach) and Broughton Beach on Marine Drive. They will also be patrolling for drunk drivers and people with open containers of alcohol.
As everyone knows, there is a lot of firework activity. We can't catch everybody, so now with the help of the Portland police department, I think it is going to work pretty well, said Ron Rouse, with Portland Fire & Rescue.
During the 2011 July 4 holiday, firefighters responded to dozens of blazes, many of them caused by illegal fireworks.
Anyone who wishes to complain to authorities about illegal fireworks can call the Portland Police non-emergency number at (503) 823-3333. Residents are encouraged not to call 911 unless there is an emergency. They said fireworks may be annoying, but they're not considered an emergency.